What should new Lake Villa Library do with all the space around it? It wants to make a plan
With its new $18 million home on Crooked Lake well-established, the Lake Villa District Library is focusing on a master plan for the expansive outdoor space that surrounds it.
Hitchcock Design Group of Naperville recently was selected from among 10 firms that submitted proposals to create a comprehensive outdoor space plan. The contract for an estimated $89,900 is pending.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, Hitchcock will fashion a plan over the next six to nine months with details shaped in part by public input.
At this point there is no schedule. But whatever is pursued likely will be done in phases over the next five to 10 years.
The new library at 140 N. Munn Road in Lindenhurst opened in August 2019. But the majority of the nearly 30-acre property is not being used.
Improving the outdoor space was a clear directive from focus groups, interviews and survey responses last year during the district's strategic planning process.
"That was really eye-opening to me," Library Director Mick Jacobsen said.
"This was all generated from community input. The first step was the strategic plan," he said.
That plan was approved last summer. The request for qualifications from design firms followed last fall.
Although nearly 2,000 trees were planted to enhance the library's landscape and two walking paths installed, there is more to consider in creating an outdoor library experience, according to Jacobsen.
"In the library world, much of the attention has been focused on buildings," Jacobsen said. "We have an opportunity here."
While there are lakes and forest preserves nearby, the library also can contribute to a natural environment that has attracted residents to Lake Villa Township, Jacobsen said.
The potential for native planting areas, an outdoor storybook garden, and structures and spaces for gathering and learning are among the elements to be considered by consultants. The public will have a say during the planning process.
"We anticipate multiple focus groups, surveys and visual interactives within the library building," said Nina Kenney, head of communications.
Hey & Associates Inc., an engineering firm based in Volo, will be a subcontractor on the natural area, wetlands and stormwater facilities.
At 66,000 square feet, the three-story Munn Road facility is more than double the space of the library's longtime home at Grand Avenue and Deep Lake Road nearby in Lake Villa.
Last fall, Grant Community Bible Church bought the former library building for $1.25 million. Proceeds are in a special fund but could be used for planning and project expenses for outdoor spaces, according to Jacobsen.
Lake Villa District Library serves about 40,000 residents in Lake Villa and Lindenhurst and parts of Round Lake Heights, Round Lake Beach and Antioch.